Journal : Alternate History – Part II

Atharva Veda : Meat Eating – Ethics and Morals ?

This one is for the hard-boiled moralising Hindu, who is always on the quick to advocate for a vegetarian diet for everyone on the earth. His pitch is intensely moral, suggesting that flesh eating is exceedingly immoral for human beings. And, he does not fail to demand or passionately expect that his interlocutors stop consuming animal flesh for good.


Frequently, when without recourse to any further rationale, our Hindu “ Veg-Is-Pure ”  Pundit will snap back :

“ Show us where in our religious or traditional texts, Vedas and Shastras, is it indicated that animal flesh is approved food for human beings ! Show us … “


I have always believed that what one eats is a matter decided by one’s income, culture or choice. Besides, non-vegetarians are invariably omnivorous, even if vegetarians are not. Over some decades, consumption of non-vegetarian food has begun to be unsustainable on environmental resources we globally have, the huge human population we need to feed to provide basic nourishment, which is simply vegetarian in the main, and the prohibitive opportunity cost humanity is paying for the fad.

Meat eating has hence become an ethical issue; though not a moral one. I would concede that meat consumption becomes irrelevant and any felt need for it drops off our life’s radar at a certain point along our spiritual evolution, when one is materially content and largely free from the worldly business of ambitious exertions. After a point, it even becomes unwanted and undesirable. But that, for one, is truly a consequence of individual preference, no matter the cause; and, two, less than 3% of the total population would actually verge on such spiritual excellence as would present meat-eating with moral dimensions for oneself.

There is reason to believe that, at a certain level of personal evolution, meat, especially red, does qualify the unaware or unsuspecting mind with a measure of aggression, a quality no longer welcome and even harmful. Which, in general, is not the case with vegetables and food preparations made from plant derived products.

*   *   *

This hymn, paraphrased from Atharva Veda
[ Book VI, Canto LXXI, of Ralph T.H. Griffith, Hymns of the Atharva Veda (1895) ]
expresses a Vedic priest’s benediction upon food in general and meat forms in particular.
All of it is described as objects that “ pleases and delights ” the man.




Clearly, consumption of meat was not proscribed in Sanatan Dharma, the Hindu way of life.

On the contrary, it seems to have been a common fare, much desired and relished.





 [ I ]      Paraphrased

           A Priest’s Benediction Upon Food

O Agni, the Hotr !

Make all that I eat

As sacrifice well-offered …

All food, of varied form and nature

Whether bought with gold

Or received as a gift …

Horse, sheep, goat or bullock.

Whatever … sacrificed or not

Bestowed by men

And sanctioned by the Fathers

That comes to me

Pleases and delights …

May Agni, the Hotr

Render as sacrifice well-offered.

O Gods !

Whatever I eat unjustly

Of food bestowed and received

With a measure of doubt

Whether to accept or refuse

That I now swallow…

May the greatness of Universal Being

– Vaisvaanara, the mighty

Make it sweet and blessed to me.



[ II ]    As rendered by Ralph T.H. Griffith, Hymns of the Atharva Veda (1895)


A Priest’s Benediction After Meat

1          What food I eat of varied form and nature,
Food whether gold, or horse, sheep, goat, or bullock,
Whatever gift I have received,
May Agni the Hotar make it as sacrifice well-offered. 

2          Whatever, sacrificed or not, hath reached me,
Bestowed by men and sanctioned by the Fathers,
Whereby my heart seems to leap up,
May Agni the Hotar make that as sacrifice well-offered.


3          What food I eat unjustly, Gods !
Or, doubtful between bestowing and refusing, swallow,
Through greatness of Vaisv
ānara the mighty
May that same food be sweet to me and blessed !


3 thoughts on “Journal : Alternate History – Part II

  1. The quoted verse from Atharva Veda is misleading, because the writer does not understand the meaning of the verse. The verse is about a festive meal given to the Brahmin, who after the meal reveive even today receive some gifts as a ritual. Thus horses, sheep etc were offered as gifts to the guests to take home after they would finish eating. This does not prove that the guests were eating beefs.

  2. Read Rig Veda ( book VI; Hymn XXVIII). Cows are considered as deities, protected by Indra and none should harm cows.
    That rules out the myth that ancient Aryans used to eat Beef. Certainly they used to sacrifice horses after the Ashyamedh Jyouga and used to sacrifice goats for Kali ( in the later years during the Purana ), but there is no evidence that they used to eat eef.
    In Bhagwt Gita Sri Krisna wrote clearly about the food that one should eat ( food that is not acidic, or left over night but food which gives energy, make you feel not heavy but light).

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